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Sumnicht file

In March 2016, Columbia County Supervisors Fred Teitgen and Teresa Sumnicht show fellow members of the County Board's Ad Hoc Building Committee a mock-up of an art concept for the entry area of the county's new administration building -- a U.S. flag, displayed on four sides, lighted from the inside with LED lighting. The concept for the art came from Sumnicht, and today a larger version of this art fixture hangs in the atrium of the county's Administration Building, 112 E. Edgewater St.

Teresa Sumnicht sat in her car, in the parking lot of the Columbia County Administration Building, with her “declaration of non-candidacy” documents in her hand.

She pondered whether to file those documents in the County Clerk’s office, or run for another two-year term as Columbia County supervisor for the 22nd district, encompassing wards 4 through 6 of the city of Columbus.

Sumnicht said she eventually opted to declare non-candidacy, because she wants to focus on other things in her life, and because she wants to pass the torch to a younger person.

“I did enjoy it,” Sumnicht said of the County Board post she’s held since winning a two-way write-in race in the spring of 2010. “I enjoyed all the supervisors, and certainly the employees. But now I have to make time for myself.”

County Clerk Susan Moll said Sumnicht’s non-candidacy documents were filed after the deadline of Dec. 21. That means that the filing deadline — 5 p.m. today for all other County Board seats — has been extended to Friday for the District 22 seat.

Sumnicht is the sixth incumbent supervisor to declare non-candidacy for the April 3 spring non-partisan election, when all 28 County Board seats are up for grabs.

Other incumbents not running are:

  • John Tramburg of Fall River, the county’s longest-serving supervisor who has been on the board since September 1982. He represents District 19, including the village of Fall River and Ward 1 of the town of Fountain Prairie.
  • Fred Teitgen of the town of Dekorra, a supervisor since 2003, whose District 16 includes Ward 1 of the village of Poynette and Wards 2 and 3 of the town of Dekorra.
  • Steve Attoe of the town of Lodi, first elected to the County Board two years ago, representing District 25 — Wards 1 through 3 of the town of Lodi.
  • James Brooks of the town of Lodi, also first elected in 2016, whose District 26 includes wards 1 and 2 of the city of Lodi and wards 5 and 6 of the town of Lodi.
  • Craig Robson of Portage, appointed in June to the District 7 seat (wards 2 and 4 of the city of Portage) to replace Kenneth Hutler, who moved out of the district.

Sumnicht and Teitgen are both on the County Board’s five-member Ad Hoc Building Committee, the body charged with overseeing the county’s biggest-ever building project.

Sumnicht said she enjoyed working with Teitgen on efforts to choose and acquire art to decorate the new Administration Building, 112 E. Edgewater St., and the new Health and Human Services Building, 111 E. Mullett St.

It was Sumnicht who came up with the idea for the light fixture that now hangs in the Admin Building’s atrium, which features four U.S. flags configured in a rectangular box shape, with a light in the center. Teitgen created the mock-up for the fixture to show the Ad Hoc Building Committee, which approved it after consulting with Veterans Service Officer Richard Hasse to ensure it meets U.S. flag etiquette standards.

Sumnicht also is chairwoman of the County Board’s Health and Human Services Board.

She said she envisions spending her time, after her County Board term expires in April, in a variety of activities, including stepping up her involvement in the Literacy Council in Columbus. Participants in Literacy Council include people of all ages, she said — and the programs don’t focus solely on reading.

“We’re finding a need for education in finance,” Sumnicht said. “Most of the people have money, but don’t know what to do with it.”

Sumnicht said she has talked to neighbors and friends about seeking her supervisory seat, but no one has stepped forward yet.

It’s her hope, she said, that her successor is a young adult.

She acknowledged that two of her County Board colleagues who are stepping down — Brooks and Attoe — are young adults, who are giving up their posts largely because of difficulties scheduling County Board committee meetings around their work schedules.

What this points to, she said, is the need for employers to work with employees who want to participate in public service, as is the case with some other County Board members who hold full-time jobs.

“County Board is a great opportunity for young people to utilize their voices, to take an interest in our communities and how the money is spent,” she said.

Follow Lyn Jerde on Twitter @LynJerde

Portage Daily Register Reporter